A man on safari sees a group of captive elephants, each with a thin rope tied loosely around one ankle. These majestic creatures are enormous, some reaching 4m into the air and weighing over 5000kg.
They are not held with chains or in cages and appear reasonably content. The thin rope that falls loosely around the bottom of their huge legs is attached to a small stake which is driven into the ground.
The man asks the elephant carer, “Why don’t the elephants break free?”
The carer replies simply “They don’t believe they can. When they were very young and much smaller the same thin ropes were used to tie them. As they grew up, they became conditioned to believe they cannot leave and now they are content to stay in captivity. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they don’t even try to break away.”
This story illustrates beautifully how we as humans also live our lives. We are told something or experience something when we are young or as time goes by, and we become conditioned to believe it is true.
This story might be in the form of a religious belief where we become terrified to step outside the perceived boundaries for fear of eternal damnation.
It might be that certain activities will bring our family into shame or dishonor and therefore we must be punished.
Or it might be the innocuous and subtle repetition of how we have no value to add or that we should keep quiet to avoid placing a further burden on our families or society.
Racist people are not born racist – they are conditioned from an early age and learn from others around them.
Homophobic people are not born homophobic – they are taught that this is a wrong or abnormal way to live.
Like the elephants, we are all physically capable of breaking free. Free from the self-limiting beliefs, the stereotypes, the dogma, and from simply accepting that we have no other option other than to live a life full of hard days across a span of mediocrity.
I acknowledge that our immediate environment can influence the opportunities we have. But I have also heard too many stories of people that have broken free from these circumstances to go on to create a new and better environment and leave their mark on the world!
There is nothing more influential in how we live our lives than the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we choose to believe.
I think about how sad it is that there are so many talented and gifted people out there, yet many will never uncover these gifts or go on to do anything with them because they don’t believe enough in themselves.
I can promise you this,
You are ALWAYS stronger than you think!
How many of us have heard the story of the woman who displays superhuman power and lifts a small car off her trapped child. This level of power is within every single one of us, we just have to want it badly enough and believe we can access it.
Imagine two mountain tops high above a fast-flowing river. There is a rickety wobbly rope and broken paling bridge that barely joins the two peaks. Part of the ropes are frayed and there isn’t a single safety test this bridge would pass. You are offered $1000 to cross it. Chances are you say ‘no way!’
But place your child on one end of the bridge, with you on the opposite end, and see if your answer is different now. I suspect there would be no hesitation at all.
Nothing has changed regarding the instability of the bridge, but your reason to cross it is so much stronger now. As you look into the eyes of your child, for a split second, you can feel that superhuman power within you.
What stops you from doing that thing you’ve always thought about?
What voice tells you you won’t be any good at that activity or career?
And when you listen to those who insult you or put you down, look at the person who is saying these words. Is this the type of person you aspire to be like?
I spoke to an executive committee recently and my first slide was an introduction about me and WHY I do what I do – what drives me.
There were very few words on the screen and this picture.
Losing a child does not mean our life is over forever, although we might regularly feel that way.
Ben has become my biggest driver and my strongest support and he remains consistent even when I’m not.
Four years down my path, there is still nothing I wouldn’t do for him.
Ben has become the precise reason I want to make a difference when losing him could have easily been the excuse for doing nothing.
You might say I hold this 15yo boy on a pedestal and you would be right!
The inexplicable things that have happened and the sequence of events that could only have been orchestrated from another realm, have filled up my cup of belief and given me something to strive for.
They have given me the overwhelming drive and reason I need to push through those crappy days and painful tears.
And at the end of the day, I know when I put my head down at night, he is smiling at me. And in the quiet and the darkness, part of me hears, ‘You did good today mum! – Nite’. 😊
Dalya xx 💙